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4 Ways To Save Money When You Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck

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I live paycheck to paycheck can I save money?


Today, you are going to learn how it is possible to save money when living paycheck to paycheck.

Let’s begin, shall we?

We hear about how important it is to save money, why having an emergency fund is so important; yet many of us struggle with saving money and are living paycheck to paycheck in this country. Saving money when you are living paycheck to paycheck is possible.

How can I sit here and say that it is possible to save money when you are living paycheck to paycheck? I lived it.

I’ve been through it. I couldn’t wait for payday, only to be broke by the end of the weekend. The saddest part is that I got paid bi-weekly so that I would be so down for a week and a half until the next payday.

Does this sound familiar?

I remember the joy I had when I heard that my company decided to change the date. We received our direct deposit from Friday to Thursday. Why? It was because I would get my money a day earlier.

Living paycheck to paycheck was a terrible way of living for me. My parents lived this way when I was growing up, and so did many other family members and close friends.

I had never heard of creating a monthly budget. When things happened, we blamed everything and everyone but ourselves because we were so frustrated that we didn’t have money to pay for it.

Living paycheck to paycheck created more debt for me, and if you don’t believe me, I will explain right now.

When my car would break down, I would use my credit card to repair my vehicle. Instead of using my money wisely, I would use my credit cards as emergency funds.

And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that used their credit cards as an emergency fund.

Living this way was a stressful life; one that many Americans continue to live.

Having to live paycheck to paycheck is a terrible way to live. It’s such a negative way of living; it affects the entire family, not only financially, but emotionally as well.

When things go wrong, and you need money to repair your car, and you know you don’t have money, are you happy?

Do you blame yourself? Do you blame others?

Are you in such a bad mood that all you can think about is your car broken down and how much it’s going to cost? Would you be out of a vehicle until your next paycheck?

Since you will be using your next paycheck to pay for your car repairs, what bills are you NOT going to pay?

Do you see a pattern here? Does this sound familiar?

Even when you think that saving money is not doable because of your financial situation, I can tell you that saving money when you are living paycheck to paycheck is possible.

I did it.

I am here to give you exactly how you can avoid this and to encourage you; if you follow these steps, you will be able to have money saved up.

All it takes is time, consistency, and a commitment from you that it is possible. It doesn’t matter what your income is; saving money can be attainable.


Before we continued to break down how to stop living this way and save money in the process, we are going to cover some major questions about it.

Let’s begin!

Paycheck To Paycheck Definition

What does paycheck to paycheck really mean? When someone lives paycheck to paycheck, it means that their paycheck is devoted to their expenses.

Their paycheck is often spent before it’s earned. What this means is that they rely on their next paycheck to meet their upcoming expenses.

What does it mean to live from paycheck to paycheck?

When you live from paycheck to paycheck, it means that you’re dependent on your next paycheck.

In fact, your money from last week’s paycheck may not even make it until your next paycheck.

It can be hard to live this way, especially if you carry debt. If you’re living this way, you may have wondered how to get out of debt living paycheck to paycheck.

Not only can you cut unnecessary expenses and learn to do the things you love for free, but you can also pick up extra work and devote that money to paying off debt.

Once your debt is paid off, chances are you’ll find that you have money left over at the end of the week that can be put into savings.

Paycheck To Paycheck Statistics

Believe it or not, roughly 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Most Americans are just one emergency away from financial ruin.

Think about that for a second. What would happen if you had an emergency that cost $1000 or more? Do you have the funds to cover it?

Rising above living paycheck to paycheck requires a strict budget and cutting expenses. You want to be able to pay off any debt and then put money into savings.

Paycheck To Paycheck Budget

With a paycheck to paycheck budget, you assign bills and expenses to each paycheck.

For example, you might use your first paycheck of the month to cover your rent/mortgage and your second paycheck to cover your car payment and insurance.

If you find that you can’t cover an expense with one paycheck, such as your mortgage, you need to take a hard look at how you’re living. It is recommended that your rent/mortgage be no higher than one paycheck.

Paycheck To Paycheck Budget Tips

  • Cut variable expenses, such as food costs and entertainment
  • Prioritize bills based on importance
  • Use the cash envelope system
  • Utilize a paycheck to paycheck budget spreadsheet
  • Get new quotes from insurance companies
  • Speak to an accountant about adjusting your withholdings so that you have more money to spend now and a smaller tax refund
  • Live within your means. If you can’t afford your housing or car payment, downgrade


When you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need all the information you can get about where your money is going.

Without a budget, you are not managing your money. Instead, your money is controlling you!

A budget can show you some of the reasons you are running short on cash. It is also telling you and guiding you.

Telling your money where to go, and having control and knowledge of your finances, will help you understand and stay focused when it comes to saving money.

Maybe you are spending way too much money on eating out?

Learning where your money is going is extremely important.

If you spend $10 on a few simple things every morning at the coffee shop/gas station, it seems like a small amount each time.

Add that up, and you are spending $300 a month on just coffee/snacks/breakfast (whatever you get in your morning ritual)!

Let’s even total this for 12 months, and your grand total will be $3600 on a “few things” at the grocery store.

Therefore, it is so essential to track your spending habits with a budget.

If you are not planning on creating a budget, then your chances of saving money while living paycheck to paycheck will be very slim.

If you have never created a budget below are some tips to help you create a paycheck budget.

What’s a paycheck budget?

Paycheck budgeting is when your monthly expenses are assigned to a paycheck or stream of income.

Why a paycheck budget?

Many people fail at budgeting because they get frustrated with a budget.

Budgeting your paycheck makes it more real and more doable than creating a yearly budget or monthly budget.

Now, what if I told you that the best way for you to start budgeting is to budget every paycheck you earn, and we will go into details next.

How to Budget a Paycheck?

To start budgeting your paycheck and stop this way, you are going to do the following steps below.

Use a Calendar

Use a calendar and write down the dates you get paid and the dates your bills are due with the amount you are going to pay.

Now look at your paycheck dates and let’s say that you get paid bi-weekly.

Now if there are to of you working and you both get paid bi-weekly write it down.

You must write down ALL your bills and income. ALL OF THEM!

Now, that you have written down the dates when you will get paid and when your bills are due it is time to step back and look at your calendar.

My friend, you are going to learn how to budget your paycheck, and I’m going to warn you that it might be scary, and you might be afraid, but it will work out.

Trust me!

Let’s work with an example to show you how it works. Let’s say Zack and I both get paid bi-weekly.

This month Zack will receive paychecks on the 6th and the 20th.

Joyce (me) will get my paychecks on the 13th and 27th of this month.

  • Zack paycheck 1 – $1300 (after taxes)
  • Joyce paycheck 1 – $1400 (after taxes)
  • Zack Paycheck 2 – $1300 (after taxes)
  • Joyce paycheck 2 – $1400 (after taxes)

The total monthly income for Joyce and Zack is $5400.

As you can see when you look at your calendar for the 6th and 20th, Zack’s paycheck should be written down, and for the 13th and 27th, Joyce’s name should be written down.

Now for the monthly recruiting bills, you will write them down on your calendar the day you are planning to pay them.

We recommend you automate these monthly bills to make the process easy.

Of course, these are just examples of monthly bills, and it’s just to show you how to fill your calendar.

If you have any credit card, monthly payments include them on this list as well with the amount you are budgeting to pay.

  • Mortgage/Rent due 1st – $1200
  • Electric bill due the 10th – $75
  • Gas bill due the 15th – $25
  • Cell phones due the 20th – $100
  • Car payment due the 25th – $300
  • Cable/Internet due the 26th – $120
  • Car Insurance due the 28th – $75

The total for these recruiting bills is $1895.

Again, these monthly bills will be written down on your calendar with the amount due.

Now we know that this is not the end of our monthly expenses. We are missing more categories, such as groceries, personal care, clothes, etc.

How do we paycheck budget other expenses?

We will call these expenses weekly or biweekly expenses, depending on how you get paid.

For these types of expenses using the cash budgeting system is a game-changer, and I know if you have never tried this system, you are going to come up with some excuses.

And for those excuses, there is a post called Cash Envelope System Myths that will prove to you that this can be done realistically.

If you don’t feel like using the cash envelope system, then I will explain who to paycheck budget for these categories later.

  • Groceries – $400
  • Dinning out – $100
  • Clothing – $40
  • Travel – $200
  • Entertainment – $50
  • Personal care – $100
  • Household – $125
  • Pet care – $50
  • Childcare – $400
  • Gas – $300

Total expenses – $1765

We know for a fact that other expenses might not even be monthly but quarterly and they must be accounted for and budget for as well.

Irregular expenses such as taxes, insurance, car inspections, and should be totaled for the year and divided by month.

If you want to go even further, you may split it by paycheck to save for these expenses.

Now if you have a surplus on your budget as this fine-looking budget example I just shared, you might want to consider saving and/or paying off debt.

Back to the calendar and look at what bills and categories you are going to assign to each paycheck.

We know that we get a paycheck every week since now using a color highlighter, highlight the bills and categories that check is going to cover.

An example, use a yellow-colored highlighter for paycheck #1 and highlight what you are going to pay with this check.

If you don’t want to use a highlighter, use a sheet. You must write a paper or spreadsheet to assign bills and categories to your paycheck.

The first check of the month, Zack #1 for $1300 is going to cover x,y,z bills for the month.


Check – Zack #1

Amount – $1300

Will pay:

  • $300 for Rent/Mortgage
  • $75 for Electric
  • $400 for Groceries
  • $100 for Dinning
  • $100 for Daycare (Total month budget is $400)
  • $125 for Household
  • $200 will go for irregular expenses you have budgeted for.

Do you see what we did with this paycheck? We had just budgeted the entire paycheck, and we still have three more paychecks to go.

The next paycheck you will look at your calendar, and you will assign a bill and a category for that paycheck.

You also saw in my sample that we split categories to make it simple to pay.

For example, why would you pay your rent/mortgage with one check and run out of money?

The best way is to divide it into four and budget for it this way — the same with daycare.

Now, this is just an example on how to budget your paycheck to help you stop living paycheck to paycheck.

You can learn more about how to use a budget binder and cash envelope to help you manage your finances and have control of your money fast.

Now that we have covered budgeting next, we are going to cover saving goals.

There is no point in savings if you have no goals.


When I first started to save money, I decided that I wanted to save a set amount for the first month.

I decided I wanted to save $50. Now keep in mind that my finances were simply a mess. I was a single mom, and I couldn’t save for crap!

By creating an attainable goal, it gave me something to work for in my first month. When I reached my primary goal, I decided to transfer $20 a week, every Friday, to my savings account.

That’s how it began for me. I created saving goals that motivated me. Having a plan, and creating goals will help you stay focused and motivated to save money when you are living paycheck to paycheck.


The reason I say open an online account is that, quite honestly, you don’t want to open any bank account that requires a minimum balance of $100 or charges you monthly fees.

Many online banking institutions, like CapitalOne 360, require no minimum balance and have no fees.

I use CapitalOne 360 for my Christmas savings account and have $20 transferred each Friday by the end of the year we have enough money saved to help us during the holiday season.

After you open another bank account, start saving what you can for now. Start with $5 a week, $20 a month, or any amount that you can realistically save (budget permitting).

Having an online banking account helped me out so much for the simple fact that I couldn’t just walk to the bank and take the money. Withdrawing the money wasn’t convenient for me, this allowed my savings to grow.

In July 2016, we decided to give Digit a try, and we haven’t looked back. With Digit we have saved more than the goal we set to save. We have configured to save $500 by February 2017, December 29, 2016, the account reached $797.50!

Check out these money-saving posts:


You probably are so used to your spending ways to realize that along the way; you lost control of your finances.

You are stressing over money due to lack of planning. Once you set your budget and opened another bank account, it’s time to grow that savings baby!

I think this is where the fun begins because it’s when you realize that you have control of your finances and not the other way around. Many people believe that making a little extra money on the side is not possible.

It is time to think outside of the box and be creative. Remember that you are living paycheck to paycheck, and any extra money coming in will be helpful. There are many ways to make extra money without getting a part-time job.

Continue with your saving goal plan and add these money-making ideas to the mix, you will be adding more money to your saving accounts.


The rebates apps are amazing when it comes to earning extra money for shopping. Many of these apps will award points for simply walking into a store, scanning an item, or buying selected items.

These rebates apps were not around a few years ago, and now that they are, it is incredible how convenient they are.

They help you save money on almost every product around. From eggs to healthy food, you will find rebates on your favorite brand.

There are many rebate apps out there, below is a list of my favorites and must-have apps that will help you earn money.

How do you use this money toward your saving goals? Many of these apps will direct deposit your money once you’ve reached the payout limits to your bank account. You will be surprised how simple it is to make extra cash with rebates apps.


These online survey companies are great to make extra money from home and, sometimes, your Smartphone.

There are a lot of online survey companies that are legit that you can earn real extra money.

On a cautionary note, I will tell you that you will not be rich overnight; but anything is better than nothing.

There are a lot of legitimate survey sites out there (like the ones I listed), but there are fake/scam survey sites as well.

Be careful when joining new sites; always research an unfamiliar website before giving them your information and time.

Also, you have to have the time to sit and answer these surveys. You have to be careful that you don’t waste time because sometimes you will not qualify for the survey.

Below are some money-making apps and online survey companies that will pay you:

There are many ways to earn extra money, and you can read all about them here. Remember that you want to use the money you make to grow your savings.


We can stop living paycheck to paycheck because it is possible. Will it take time to reach? Absolutely, and as I said before, it takes commitment, time, and consistency to see your money grow.

The best thing I ever did was start saving small. By doing this, it opened the door to many other financial accomplishments, like paying off my debt!

I hope these helpful tips will lead you to the path of financial independence and a financially stress-free life. Living paycheck to paycheck is not the only way to live, and you can escape from this pattern.



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  1. Great tips Joyce! When I started my financial journey in late 2013 I was living paycheck to paycheck and I supposed I still am to some degree, but it’s much better than it was before as I get closer to paying off my debt and I continue to save money in my emergency fund each month. -Kayla

    1. Thank you Kayla! Somehow we managed to save money even after some rough weeks we were having. I agree with you that it does get better.

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  3. It is so stressful to be scraping by, and no matter how “smart” it is to put money aside it’s still difficult. I like the thought of not trying to squeeze more money out of your paycheck, but looking to other places to make a little extra. Thanks for sharing! Hello from Thrifty Thursday.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Melissa! I agree, for me it was hard at first but once I got the hang of it I will save more. When I say more I mean a few bucks more. I am telling you I started with saving a small amount.

  4. Great financial advice! Thanks for sharing on the #ShareTheWealthSunday Link up!

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  6. I can feel the emotion and stress of living paycheck to paycheck just by reading your post. Every little bit of savings does count. Great financial advice!

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  8. Every bit of savings definitely counts! I still keep a giant change jar and use it for the fun stuff at the end of each year. Thanks for the tips!

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